The Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) 2017 reveals that of the 158,513 regular Bhutanese households in the country, 60.4 percent of the households are land holders.
The types of land include dry land, wet land, orchard, cardamom, khimsa (housing plot) in urban area, khimsa in rural area and Tsesa (kitchen garden).
The total land owned by regular households is 352,647.03 acres where 70 percent (245,199.09 acres) is identified as dry land and 17 percent (58,569.25 acres) is identified as wetland. The remaining 13 percent are other types of land. This excludes the lands belonging to the government, corporations and institutions.
The report reveals that the majority of the households own dry land totaling 54.6 percent, followed by wetland and khimsa in rural areas at 26.7 percent and 24.6 percent respectively. This is followed by kitchen garden, orchard and cardamom lands. The housing plot in urban area is among the least with 4 percent.
Among the land holders, it was found that rural areas have a higher proportion of landholders of 72.8 percent as compared to urban areas of 38.7 percent.
While the proportion of land holding household is found to be higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas, it was found that 79.8 percent of the total land are cultivated by land owners themselves where 3.5 percent are leased-out and remaining the 16.7 percent is left fallow.
Regarding the fallow land, 59,015.44 acres (17 percent) of the land are found uncultivated by 28,092 households. The uncultivated dry land total an area of 51,535.62 acres and 6,273.70 acres of wet land. “Most cited reasons for keeping land fallow are, shortage of labour, too far away, threats from wildlife, and shortage of water or irrigation.”
A total of 12,256.34 acres of land in the country were leased-out by 7,088 households. Of the 3.5 percent of leased-out land, 2.84 percent of the households have leased-out a total of 7,125.63 acres of dry land and 2.08 percent of the households have leased-out a total of 4,388.24 acres of wet land. Less than one percent ofthe total households leased-out other categories of land. The higher proportion of leased-out land are in rural households.
In relation to it, 15,059.67 acres of land have been leased-in by 9,904 households, 6.25 percent of the regular households. “Generally, as the land holding increases, the share of households that lease-in dry land decreases”, the report stated adding that the households that are landless or have less land holding tend to lease-in dry land from other households or institutions.
Meanwhile, among the dzongkhags, the households with land ownership is reported to be highest in Tsirang with 78.9 percent land owners, whereas Chhukha and Thimphu are among the lowest with 50.8 percent and 40.8 percent respectively.